However, now turns the page towards the team’s first “business” trip of the season, preparing to take on the Washington Nationals in a 3-game set from our nation’s capitol.
The Rays did everything you could ask for in their first series of the season. Having played three games of complete baseball in all facets, bringing into question, how do you keep the momentum rolling into the next few games of the early stages of the season?
Rays Sweeping Up The Competition
The Rays handled the Tigers this weekend, outscoring Detroit 21-3 in runs scored for the entirety of the series.
Beyond just the offensive production that the team was able to muster together, the Rays’ pitching staff was dominant. McClanahan, Eflin, and Springs all went five innings plus, only allowing 1 run combined, coming from Eflin’s start on Saturday.
To replicate the production that the Rays had this weekend on a consistent basis during the course of a major league season is hard to do. However, with a relatively weak slate to kick off the season with the Nationals this week and the Oakland Athletics for Easter weekend, the Rays could very well keep up the pace they have started off with.
If the Rays are able to, it will be a big momentum boost for this team heading into what will be their first true test on April 10 when they kick off a series against their divisional rival, the Boston Red Sox.
Fire Up The Fleming
Josh Fleming will receive his first start during this series versus the Nationals. He takes the bump in game two when he will go head-to-head against Chad Kuhl for the Nationals.
Although Fleming earned his spot on the roster by outbattling Luis Patino and Yonny Chirinos, Fleming’s starts will be important for him to stay a part of this 26-man roster for the early part of this season.
Obviously, fans know what to expect from the top four starters in this rotation (McClanahan, Eflin, Springs, Rasmussen). With Fleming being the stand-in for the injured Tyler Glasnow, this opportunity for Fleming to be the 5th starter in the Rays rotation is a big tryout opportunity, if you will, for the 26-year-old left-hander.
Josh Fleming’s starts will give the Rays an idea of what Fleming could be as an everyday starter for the club. It also could make a possible decision to bring up Fleming, Patino, or Chirinos during the season if an injury is a bit clearer.
Wander Franco had a great start to the season this weekend, going 7 for 11, with three doubles and a homer against the Tigers. The big question is: can the Rays superstar in the making continue this production during the rest of the year?
Although the team will see less-than-stellar pitching, facing teams in the Nationals and Athletics with low playoff chances heading into 2023, it could be a good opportunity for Franco to grab some early offensive momentum. He’s coming off a 22-year-old season that saw Franco injury-prone to more of what we saw in 2021 from the young phenom.
Beyond that, Franco getting a chance to get some at-bats on the road against a team like the Nationals, where the Rays may be favored in the series, could be a positive sign for the young 22-year-old.
Final Thoughts on Rays vs Nationals
Although this series may not be the appealing matchup that Rays fans are looking at coming up here in the month of April, this series versus the Nationals will give the team a good chance to get their feet wet from a visitor’s perspective for the first time in 2023.
This will be a good opportunity for the Rays to continue their offensive production against the bottom of the Nationals rotation and for the Rays’ pitching staff to go up against one of the weaker lineups in the MLB in 2023.
Main photo credit: Dave Nelson-USA Today Sports